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If you’re hoping to buy a home, having a good credit score is essential, as this helps you qualify for a mortgage. So if your credit score is low, indicating bad credit, knowing how long it takes to raise it to the level of buying a home can help you plan ahead.

Credit repair companies sometimes promise almost instant results, saying they’ll get the job done. However, there’s no secret to increasing your score, and it can’t happen overnight. It is possible to improve your credit rating within one to two months. It may take even longer, depending on what is lowering your score and how you handle it. Here are tips to repair your credit effectively.

How long does it take to get a credit rating?

First of all, what is considered a good score versus a bad score? Here are some general settings:

Low score: 649 and below

Although the required score varies by area and loan type, lenders generally look for a score of 660 or higher before granting a mortgage. (Learn more about the minimum credit score required for a home loan). If you’re hoping to improve your credit score quickly, here are some steps you can take.

Fix errors in your credit report

Correcting errors in your credit report is a relatively quick way to improve your credit score. If it’s a simple mistake of identity, like showing up a credit card that isn’t yours, you can have it corrected within one to two months. If it’s an error on one of your accounts, it may take longer because you need to involve your creditor as well as the credit bureau.

The whole process usually takes 30-90 days. If there’s a lot of back and forth between you, the credit bureau, and your creditor, it may take longer.

The first step to correcting errors is to get a free copy of your credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian (the three major credit bureaus). Next, check your credit report for errors. If it is an error on one of your accounts, you must refute this error with the office by providing documents proving the contrary. For example, if you paid a credit card on time and the card issuer reports late payment, find a bank statement that shows you paid on time.

The credit bureaus usually have 30 days to investigate the error. If they recognize that it is an error, they withdraw the article. The credit bureau may also request additional information or ask you to discuss this information with the affected creditor. If so, monitor communications with your creditor to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.

Establish a credit history if necessary

It may simply mean that your credit is weak. In other words, you haven’t demonstrated enough creditworthiness to potential lenders, at least what they can see on your credit report.

If so, you may need to open a credit account, such as a credit card, and make regular payments to that account Don’t overspend, or use it as an excuse to take out loans you don’t need.

For example, you can get a secured credit card and pay for gas and other day-to-day expenses with it. To avoid paying high interest or racking up credit card debt, track your balance throughout the month and pay it off each month.

Process overdue accounts

If you have bad credit, bringing in delinquent accounts and settling accounts for collection can also boost your score quite quickly. Once the creditor or collection agency reports your account update, you should see your score increase.

Remember, however, that your late payment history will remain on your credit report for seven years. If you have questionable accounts that have been on your report for six years or more, you shouldn’t worry about fixing or updating them. The account can then be revived, and if you fall behind again, it will remain on your credit report for seven years.

Reduce your credit utilization rate

Your credit utilization ratio refers to the amount you owe relative to the amount of available credit you have. For example, if you have a credit limit of $10,000 on all your credit cards and your balances total $9,000, you have used 90% of your credit. This lowers your score.

Scores are updated continuously and creditors usually report once a month. If you make a payment that lowers your credit usage, it should reflect on your score within two months.

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